Paul Konchesky has been looking back on his move to Liverpool 10 years ago and feels that “being a London boy” might explain why he bombed.
A label which didn’t really affect Paul Walsh, Michael Thomas, Paul Ince, Glen Johnson, Joe Gomez or others.
Maybe a more telling reason was that, performance-wise, Konchesky made Liverpool’s second-worst left-back signing, Julian Dicks, look like Carlos Alberto.
He wasn’t the lone failure in Roy Hodgson’s only summer as Liverpool manager. Joe Cole, Christian Poulsen, Brad Jones, Milan Jovanovic, Danny Wilson, Raul Meireles and Jonjo Shelvey also arrived and made as little impact as the man who signed them.
It’s why FSG, the owners who came in and sacked Hodgson, have been determined to operate a prudent strategy ever since – which is taken personally by many thousands on social media who annually fixate on a player and demand he’s signed.
Two years ago it was Nabil Fekir, last year Pepe. Looking back, it’s fair to say neither were missed.
This year it’s Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara, and with only Kostas Tsimikas brought in as Andy Robertson’s back-up, with the money received from Dejan Lovren’s sale, the Twitter fumes are toxic.
Especially as all their rivals, including Everton, are waving around the cheque book.
But maybe this time they have a point. Liverpool haven’t made any major signings for two years and of the outfield team that lost the 2018 Champions League final, only Joe Gomez has come in for Lovren and Fabinho for James Milner.
The rest, with the possible exception of Gini Wijnaldum, have been automatic choices when fit. That’s a lot of games between them. And little variation in style – leading to a feeling that tactically the squad needs more flexibility and some high-quality fresh legs.
Klopp appears to agree with that. Whenever he’s been asked about transfer plans he has hinted that he’d like to bring in players but is operating on a different financial level to his nearest rivals. Which rankles with some fans, who point out Liverpool have reached two Champions League finals and won the Premier League in the last three seasons.
New CEO Billy Hogan’s opening message was that the club “is about trying to create a business that is sustainable”.
But is it sustainable to ask the same small squad which racked up 196 points over two seasons in the world’s toughest league, to hit the same phenomenal levels again, without an injection of quality?
FSG are right to point out they’re taking a big hit with Covid and can’t gamble with the future. But which club isn’t? And when you have a man like Jurgen Klopp at the helm for the next four years, is backing his judgement in the market that much of a gamble?
I think Liverpool will spend. There’s a long way to go in this transfer window and as the deadline approaches there will be demand for the likes of Harry Wilson, Marco Grujic and Xherdan Shakiri, which could bring in a minimum £50million. Wijnaldum could also engineer an exit to Barcelona.
If that doesn’t raise enough cash to plug the gaps in the squad, FSG would be wise to stump up the cash. Because Klopp needs cover in central defence, a new point of attack from midfield, which would be Alcantara, and an alternative striker, possibly Ismaila Sarr or Adama Traore.
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This isn’t 2010, and the manager isn’t Roy Hodgson. Looking at Klopp’s track record, they can feel confident the players he covets will deliver.
It’s admirable that Hogan’s priority is a sustainable business model. But having got back on their perch after 30 years, surely the main thing they need to sustain is keeping the team at number one. The rest will follow.
With Manchester City strengthening an already formidable squad, and possibly bringing in Lionel Messi, it would only take the slightest drop in standards to fall off that perch again.